“To have a good relationship with money, you must know who you are and what your purpose is in this world.” —Kate Northrup, Money: A Love Story
Find your purpose, exercise your courage and you are on your way to financial freedom. Simple AND true. Not easy, but definitely doable.
For many of us, we were taught (or it was modeled) that money and how to approach money successfully is to solely look at it logically, requiring tangible proofs in order to know we are successful – the amount of money in our checking account, a lack of debt, the amount we have saved in our chosen mode of savings, the value of our quantifiable assets – our home, our business, etc., etc.. Don’t worry, I am not going to say, being without any money in the bank is okay as long as you have [insert whatever non-monetary example you have heard], because it’s not true. We do need money to live and live well; however, to only look at the numbers is to dismiss the powerful engine of creating the financial freedom you seek. Our lives are not Money Ball. While a wonderful film and a very successful approach to winning in the game of baseball, when we only look at the numbers, we lose the core of what living well, a life of true wealth, is all about, to lose ourselves in the sole pursuit for more money or having a certain amount of money in the bank before we [insert your big dream here] is to live without trust in the universe, to live without trust in ourselves. Again, do not worry, I am not going to say, ignore money and pursue whatever fleeting fancy your heart desires and the money will follow, but sort of, I am, it just doesn’t happen overnight, or within the window you would like it to.
When I picked up Kate Northrup’s first book Money: A Love Story, Untangle your financial woes and create the life you really want, it was the book I was looking for for some time but I wasn’t able to find it because likely, the most important lessons wouldn’t have landed with such great effect. The truth about what financial freedom is while yes, having to do with the monetary concept of literally earning more than you spend, it also involves the fuel for making money and that is not logical or literal monetarily, it comes from finding and living a life of true contentment. And as we have talked about for years here on TSLL blog and podcast, stepping onto the path toward cultivating contentment begins with being courageous enough to get to know yourself, to dig in and learn the helpful skills that all of us can learn if we choose, and then with what we discover, being brave about the next step that may be entirely different, or even slightly different than the path we were originally on.
“As with any relationship, the key to dealing with your financial woes lies within.” —Kate Northrup, Money: A Love Story
The path to financial freedom, something that upon reading Kate Northrup’s book Money: A Love Story, I discovered that what she shares overlaps in multiple ways with how to live simply luxuriously. How?
- Being present in your daily life is the power needed to discover your purpose
- Discovering and then trusting what you can uniquely give to the world to positively contribute is the key that is immeasurable monetarily and requires great courage to embrace and step forward toward as there are unknowns that will never be answered until you act.
- Knowing yourself is the priceless piece of information necessary finding your calm and your direction.
- Self-awareness is a crucial tool to learn and hone.
- Understanding your mind and being mindful of the stories that swirl about inside your mind and your ability to shift those unwanted stories to something more constructive is essential to attaining financial peace of mind.
- Where you place your attention and time is what will grow.
- Learning and practicing the skill of being content, accepting that you will not be happy all of the time, and finding calm with all sorts of emotions along the journey will ensure you make the best decisions for your financial present and future.
First, what is financial freedom?
As Kate Northrup defines it, “To wake up every morning and do whatever calls to you, whatever the heck you feel like doing, is connected to your ability to feel free from financial strain and to be open to what your heart is telling you.”
The moment I read this definition, I had specifics in my mind of what this looks like for me, so what I am going to ask you to do right now is to write in your journal, on your phone in the Notes section or anywhere where you will be able to check in and remind yourself when doubt seeking financial freedom is possible for you, what it is you want to be able to do without financial restrains holding you back? What do you want to be able to do that your heart is aching to do, but you aren’t able to financial make it so? What would your daily life look like, what would a typical calendar year look like, so vacations, work projects, home life, etc.?
PAUSE – seriously, write this out somewhere. See your future life on paper. It can happen. It CAN be your life. It all begins with the story we accept as possible. And I want you to know, and tell yourself that it is so, that you can live the life that continues to speak to you.
Let’s dive in to writing a Love Story with Money that brings you to a life of Financial Freedom.
~A Note to Readers: I will be talking in greater length on the audio version of this episode’s topic, so be sure to tune in for further conversation on each of the following points beyond what is written below.
1.Understand what your current Money Story is that is dancing about in your mind, Strengthen your Awareness
“The more we push up against something, the more we find it wrong, and the more we wish it were different, the more powerless we are to create the reality that we desire.” —Kate Northrup
Knowledge about ourselves and the voice in our head and noticing how it speaks to us – critical or accepting, loving or harsh, etc. – by knowing our story with the concept with money and where it all began is crucial to how we approach money today. Northrup begins by asking us to recall our First Money Memory. It might be a perfectly powerful one, and that is a wonderful aha connection to make as well, the key is to understand how have you been perceiving money and how that shows up in your life today.
Once you have awareness about where your history and perception of money and its function in life began, you can then either change or enhance the story depending upon whether it serves you constructively to help you live a fulfilling life.
From this place, you are going to reframe your money situation as it stands today. If you are not happy or content with your monetary situation – too much debt, not enough money to [insert item/event/etc. you want to purchase], when you frame it in your mind as I just did – not enough, too much of something you view as a negative – you are creating negative energy that is deflating. Northrup points out time and time again through examples that the reality is humans want to feel good, and if the thoughts we tell ourselves about our money situation are negative, that doesn’t make us feel good, and we tend to avoid our money situation when what in fact we should be doing is directly addressing the situation so that we can strive toward cultivating financial freedom.
“Our thoughts create our beliefs, which create our actions, which in turn create our reality.” —Kate Northurp
What do I mean by reframing? Let’s take debt for example. You have it and you don’t want it. Okay, so the plan to financial freedom (aka being debt-free) is to pay off your debt, but berating yourself for being in debt is not going to make the journey fun and it may/likely will slow down the process to achieving your goals as you may relapse or not pay as much as you would like or be distracted by temptation, etc. Reframe the story. If for example, the items/events you purchased created beautiful memories, enabled an investment that would last long after the debt was paid off, brought comfort and calm, extend gratitude and acknowledge the lessons you learned along the way. Extend gratitude also for those lessons which brought you to where you are today. The only reason you still have debt is that you haven’t exchanged the value for what you have gained, and as soon as you do, the debt will be gone. Apply the lessons, extend gratitude, and reframe the story so that it is constructive and makes you feel good.
You may be thinking, Really Shannon, reframing money in such a way is unnecessary – debt is debt. But the truth is, the debt remains either way, why not see the opportunity and the gifts and the goodness it brought into your life – tangible or intangible – because it has the potential to be the reason you will be inspired to attain Financial Freedom, and the sooner you get there, the more content you will be.
2. Now shift the story and make yourself the heroine, not the victim
“When we own our money story, and even tell it in such a way that we are the heroine, as opposed to the victim, we lay down the first brushstrokes for our new vision of financial freedom and peace.” —Kate Northrup
“Look at the comments in your past that could be looked at as not so good and address them. Find the silver lining. Look and see what they did for you instead of to you.” Then, once you have a larger perspective on how it all came together in your life trajectory, you shift from being the victim to the heroine in your own story and regain the power that has always been yours.
3. Trust your treasure map and now consciously own it
The winding journey may have had moments you have been told to not be proud of, but actually you can be. Why? What did it teach you? Most likely beyond lessons specific to the occasion, it also deepened your gratitude so that when you finally stepped beyond the difficult times, you appreciate where you are far more and are far less likely to take it for granted. Kate Northrup calls this a deepening of our financial consciousness.
4. Understand how money stress and the stories you tell about money are standing in the way of achieving your purpose
“Financial stress takes up bandwidth, period, and makes it much harder to hear your soul’s calling.”
As I mentioned in #1, when we hold a negative story around our money, we expend energy; conversely, when we shift the story to being constructive so that it makes us feel good, we gain energy. Northrup further explains, “in order to manifest what we want, we need to focus on feeling good. When we focus on feeling good instead of manifesting a specific red sports car, then we attract experiences that make us feel good.” It’s all about the energy we put out into the world. We cannot know or have expectations, but we can put the odds in our favor, show up and be present and bring our genuine selves.
Northrup goes on to remind readers that even though just putting out an intention may seem too vague and not pinpointed enough, (after all, aren’t we supposed to have SMART goals?) when we cling too tightly, we deplete our energy and we miss out on opportunities. “Your subconscious and the universe are far more creative and wise than you often give them credit. Focus on how you want to feel, organize your life to feel that way more often, and then sit back and watch how it all comes to pass majestically unfolding.”
5. Let go of the concept of ‘security’ to claim your freedom
“The things we hold on to in order to keep us safe are often the things that are preventing us from claiming our freedom.”
For years, I couldn’t fathom stepping away from the regular and steady paycheck of teaching. After all, it came with healthcare and a pension, but my fear of letting go of this supposed security is what was standing in the way of pursuing my true purpose and also opening my eyes to what I was gaining, what I actually had to let go (the pension will always be mine), and what the true cost of health insurance is even if you are not a group plan. There was a learning curve, but it wasn’t near as scary (or at all) as I had told myself it would be to let go. And there’s that word again, a story I told myself. I changed the story and I changed my entire life for the better.
6. Work through your resistance about understanding your money situation and how to rectify it
“The more frustrated, irritated and spaced-out around your money you are, the more power is available to you financially when you’re willing to work through that resistance.”
Often we imagine the worse but when we finally gather up the courage to step into and face what we dread, we realize it isn’t as uncomfortable or unapproachable as we thought. All of this is to say, the most uncomfortable part of money frustrations is avoiding them because our mind runs wild in the most unhelpful and unhealthy ways. Use the energy you have been expending on worrying and avoiding and give it to actually confronting your situation so you can begin striving forward on the path to reaching Financial Freedom.
Northrup’s book includes very clear ideas on how to first step out of unwanted situations and then continues to share most importantly for readers who are not struggling with money but are looking for how to thrive, specific insights and knowledge from her own experience on how to deepen and strengthen their financial security, accepting the reality that ‘job security’ is a myth. As a successful entrepreneur who has journeyed through the unwanted parts of money (being in debt, etc.), she’s been there and she’s highly motivated and always has been highly motivated to thrive and share with the world what she can uniquely give, but initially she didn’t have the money know-how, but once she attained it, she began to apply the lessons and has been thriving in the realm of Financial Freedom ever since.
7. Bring the Self-Love and Mean It
In order to begin stepping toward and eventually bringing to fruition the financial freedom you seek, your thoughts and how you speak to yourself about your situation must be constructive, well-intentioned and positive. In other words, you must value yourself and believe at your core that you are enough and have something valuable that the world needs and you can uniquely give.
“If you can’t see your value, the world doesn’t give value back. For me (Kate Northrup), this manifested through debt. I didn’t feel worthy of the extra time and attention necessary to live within my means, so I lived without financial integrity. And to be honest, there was a part of me that felt like crap about this.” —Kate Northrup
Northrup goes on to explain that “by addressing my lack of self-love, I was also addressing my financial problems.” She went on to explain that “money is simply a stand-in for what we value, and often it is a stand-in for how much we value ourselves . . . money flows to those who value themselves.”
Where does self-love come in? Everywhere. Knowing you are enough just as you are. Knowing you have something within you right now that the world needs that only you can uniquely give. Know this because it is true. Live this truth through yes, how you approach money, how you spend it, but non-monetarily, how you engage with others. Do you set boundaries? Do you share your voice even if what you are sharing is not wanted by those you are surrounded by? If they don’t, it is the way of the world guiding you to somewhere else, to other people, so that you can begin to find your purpose.
Often the term asset comes up when we sit down with our financial advisor, and we list our monetary assets – accounts, property, etc. – but we often never include the most valuable asset. Northrup asserts that “the most valuable asset in your life is you”. So do the inner work of getting to know yourself and then valuing yourself in the decisions you make in order for your outer world to not only fall together into a beautiful love story you enjoy living each day, but for you to discover how we just cannot plan everything and we have to trust and let go at some point, often far earlier than we had ‘planned’.
So back to the question, what does self-love look like when it comes to managing successfully our money? Pay attention to your money – how you spend it, why you spend it, the interest rates, the due dates, the savings rate, etc, etc.. Why? Do you remember when we talked about being an adult in a relationship (episode #287), and the five key A’s to being one half of a healthy, loving, respect-filled relationship? One of the five A’s is to give and receive attention. We want to have someone’s attention, to know we are seen, and when we are seen, when we feel seen, we blossom, we open up, we grow closer to one another. The same is true with money – paying attention to your money is a form of self-love because love involves attention and what we give energy to grows – our knowledge, our awareness, our financial assets, thus our Financial Freedom.
8. Speaking of trusting without knowing, remember this equation . . .
self-value + paying attention to your money + giving more value = receiving more value
At this point in your journey as you are rewriting your money story into your Love Story, you have knowledge of yourself and you are engaging as your full self, being more vulnerable, putting down the masks, sometimes you are dismissed or ignored, but that is just more valuable information of which direction to go next. Your sincerity, your passion, your full presence will be noticed, but you cannot force it, you just have show up again and again, keep trying, not the same thing, but different things until something clicks, a window opens and then a door. Mind your money as you go, but give value before you receive it. Note the equation above. The universe has to know you value what you offer, you value yourself and that you have something to offer. It doesn’t mean you know everything, it doesn’t mean you aren’t still a student, but you have to start somewhere, so start where and with what you sincerely love and are passionate about. And then when the universe, i.e people and opportunities cross your path, step toward them and say yes.
9. Practice regular self-care
“Giving value to the world feels like a fountain where the water spurts out and then falls back into a holding vessel and then gets recycled back into the system to come out again in the fountain. It’s a perpetual source of water, and it’s a great metaphor for our own energy and creativity. Giving value to the world feels like this—you have plenty more to give and it’s sustainable and feels nourishing to you at the same time as you are nourishing others . . . Then there are fountains like a sprinkler where the water is just shooting into the grass and it’s not sustainable.” —Kate Northrup
Don’t mistake what I am saying that you should put yourself and your ideas out there to the point of exhaustion. No, no, no, no. You must take care of yourself. You must nurture your creativity, your well-spring whatever that is for what you do with great passion. Pointing out bluntly and frankly, “exhaustion, stress and burnout do not result in good work . . . your best self cannot shine through if you’re constantly burdened by putting others before yourself.”
~Self-Care posts to explore:
- Tending to Strengthening Your Well-Being: It Cannot Exist Without Self-Care (no matter what others might say)
- episode #242: 31 Ways to Practice True Self-Care and Exponentially Improve the Quality of Your Daily Life
- episode #227: 16 Ideas for Simply Everyday Self-Care
10. Remembering that this is a journey, your love story will not transpire in a day . . .
“The sheer awareness that self-love, valuing your money and giving and receiving value are important will incite changes in your life.”
I want to leave with this lasting thought because I cannot tell you when your financial freedom will eventually occur. It may be next month, six months from now, a year or a couple years from now, but I do know that accepting the unknown is part of reaching your financial freedom, but it begins by finding the value you can uniquely give and to give it in a balanced way paired with nourishing yourself along the way.
Think of it as networking with the world. The world doesn’t know what you can offer unless you express it clearly, meaning you have to act. You have to be serious and brave. Not halfhearted and rash. You don’t know how or when or even if the person you connected with or the business you connected with will offer an opportunity down the road, they may actually talk to someone years from now and you keep bouncing to the front of their mind because of what you do and what you do well, and they finally found a person who is in need of what you can offer. You just don’t know, but you have to be brave enough to let the world know you are willing to share what you can uniquely give.
11. . . . But it will transpire.
And this is what it will look and feel like . . .
“What does it mean to be truly financial free . . . the first part is purely mathematical: you are financially free when your passive or residual (leveraged) income is greater than your living expenses . . . the second part is less tangible, but no doubt equally important. You’re financially free to the degree that money trips you up far less often, that you have a loving relationship with your money, ,and that you truly value yourself and your contribution to the world.” —Kate Northrup
Northrup goes on to equate reaching financial freedom to reaching the state of enlightenment, “it is practice and may not be 100 percent achieved in this lifetime, but little by little we can value ourselves a little bit more each day, we can show up more fully in life to provide value, and we can heal our relationship with money baby step by baby step, well into our 90s and beyond.”
In other words, the more you learn, and so long as you apply what you learn, what you offer to the world and your ability to offer it becomes enriched, and while you may still run into temporary roadblocks, the knowledge you have, through awareness and being present will ensure you make the best decisions to move yourself forward well. Much like living a life of contentment. We cannot control the stock market, the weather, other people, but we can control ourselves and that includes our mind and thus the stories we tell ourselves and accept as true. Being content is to rest in self-assurance that you can navigate well through these unwanted moments because what you give to the world is of value.
In episode #326, Deepak Chopra’s book Abundance: The Inner Path to Wealth speaks to what Northrup is addressing in the second part of Financial Freedom. If you haven’t listened/read this episode, I highly recommend you do so as it furthers the conversation about what it means to attain wealth through finding and sharing your purpose.
“It’s about speaking the unique truth that only you are capable of articulating in the precise way that you do . . . your financial well-being is directly linked to your ability to be of the utmost service in this world. Your commitment to financial freedom is a commitment to the betterment of all beings. When you set yourself free, you set others free. You give them permission to break the shackles of ‘should’ and ‘how-it’s-supposed to-be’s’ and live a life of their own design.”
Money: A Love Story by Kate Northrup (2013)
~Mind Your Mindset: The Science That Shows Success Starts with Your Thinking by Michael Hyatt & Megan Hyatt Miller
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